News / Middle East

Iraq says Syria War Spillover Hinders Oilfields, Pipelines

FILE - Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
FILE - Iraqi workers at the Rumaila oil refinery, near Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.
Reuters
Spillover attacks from the civil war in Syria have hindered development of Iraq's gas and oil reserves and a major pipeline to the Mediterranean has been blown up dozens of times, Iraq's top energy official said on Tuesday.
 
Violence in Iraq climbed back to its highest level in five years in 2013, with nearly 9,000 people killed, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
 
“The ongoing conflict in Syria has resulted in an increasing number of terrorists using vast desert areas between Syria and Iraq to establish bases from which they have carried out attacks against the civilian population and economic targets and infrastructure,” Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani said.
 
“Attacking the energy sector has been among their top priorities to deprive the country of its main revenue source,” he said at an energy conference in London.
 
“The attacks have been focussed on oil export pipelines, power generation and transmission lines.”
 
The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also fighting in neighboring Syria, has taken control of the Iraqi city of Falluja west of Baghdad with the help of armed tribesmen.
 
Unrest is not limited to central areas near Baghdad but is also spreading to the north where hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds fled the Syrian war to neighboring Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan and Turkey.
 
“The Iraqi Turkish pipeline was blown up 54 times during 2013, averaging once a week yet we managed to repair and use that pipeline and pump on average 250,000 barrels per day last year,” Shahristani said.
 
He said operations at much larger oilfields in Iraq's south, which provide the bulk of oil exports from the Gulf, remained unaffected.
 
However, he said security concerns hindered development of reserves in the western region and its Qayara and Najmah oilfields, operated by Angolan state oil company Sonangol in the al-Qaeda heartland of Nineveh province in the country's northwest.
 
Sonangol is not considering an exit from Iraq, he said at a later briefing for journalists.
 
OPEC quota
 
Despite the violence, Iraq is gearing up for one of the biggest oil output jumps in its history with international companies nearing completion of major projects which so far have not been affected by unrest.
 
Iraq will see its oil production capacity rise by more than 50 percent in 2015 to 4.7 million barrels per day (bpd) compared with more than 3 million at the moment, Shahristani said.
 
The long-term plan is to raise output to 9 million bpd by 2020 and sustain that rate over 20 years, he said.
 
Shahristani said that when output reached 4 million to 5 million bpd, discussions would begin over the country's production quota within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
 
Shahristani said Iraq was preparing a proposal to recalculate the supply allocations for all OPEC's members.
 
“For the time being, we are working on the assumption there will be room for Iraqi crude without having to squeeze anybody out of the market in a serious way,” he said.
 
Once sanctions are lifted on Iran and its production is fully restored, Shahristani said talks on allocations could be sped up.
 
“When Iran comes back to the market - that will be very reassuring for the world,” he said, while adding that he did not expect Tehran's full return this year.
 
Waiting for response from Kurdistan
 
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has angered Baghdad by signing deals with major and mid-sized energy companies in the hope of producing as much as 1 million barrels per day.
 
Kurdistan has built a pipeline to Turkey, but Baghdad insists it has the sole right to export oil from all parts of Iraq, including Kurdistan.
 
“Any oil that leaves Iraq without the permission of [state company] SOMO is illegal and Iraq will have to take actions to protect its oil wealth,” Shahristani said.
 
“We have informed Turkey and the KRG that we cannot allow this to continue,” he said. “We are waiting for a response to our latest proposal”.
 
Shahristani said Baghdad had proposed that the KRG pay the oil companies operating in the region out of its 17 percent share of the national budget, accept that SOMO would market the crude and deposit all revenue into the Development Fund of Iraq, based in New York.
 
The Kurds, however are still insisting on marketing their own oil and say the proposal does not give them enough money to pay the operators.
 
Shahristani said the KRG would respond shortly.
 
He emphasized that Baghdad was ready to act if oil exports continued from Kurdistan without a deal.
 
“We have a very measured action plan vis-a-vis all involved parties - with Turkey, the buyers of that crude - because internationally that's Iraqi crude - and, of course, we'll have to take measures against the KRG.”
 
“Anyone who buys that crude will face legal action from Iraq,” he said, without giving details of how would be done.
 
“The risk for Turkey is very high and very serious,” he said.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid